How The TASB Deceives The Local School Board

By Mary McGarr

One of my least favorite nongovernmental organizations is the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). This group exists to 1) make money off the state’s tax payers, 2) provide work for aging retired school administrators, 3) manipulate duly elected school boards so they don‘t get in the superintendent‘s way, 4) lobby on behalf of the interests of public school administrators, and 5) distribute its version of the Texas Education Code as interpreted by TASB attorneys.

Local school boards are charged with creating policy, but I’m guessing I’m the only Texas school board member alive who ever tried to get my own interpretations of legal matters passed in policy. When I did that in 1995-1996, one would have thought I had committed a Cardinal Sin. It was amazing to watch the machinations of the superintendent as he thwarted my effort.

I wanted very much to create policy that would allow parents to see and keep copies of tests that are given to students. Seems like a reasonable plan, yes? Apparently it wasn‘t, and so my proposed policy was summarily dismissed. My other issue was to try to put a majority of actual parents on the Campus Advisory Team at each school. We can all see why that proposal wouldn’t sit too well with principals, and that didn’t get anywhere either. But one would think that a school board elected to represent the people would have wanted such a proposal to pass!

My practice with Board Policy matters, while I was a school board member, was to visit with the administrator in charge of that collection of policies (Mrs. Bonnie Holland) twice a year when the TASB sent them out for review. I went over every policy change with her, which took hours to do, and then I went over the important changes with the Board at the Work Study meeting prior to the vote the following week. (One can see why I was so popular with the rest of the Board!) But I thought that it was my job (as well as all the other Board members’) to oversee this matter especially because rules do matter, and Boards shouldn’t be voting for rules and rule changes without paying some attention to them.

As it is now, NO ONE looks at the proposed changes, and if one attends a work study session where they are supposed to be “studied,” one will see that such is the case.